Business profile: Progressive Group

By: Lyndsay Whittle, Photography by: Lyndsay Whittle

Progressive Group Progressive Group
Progressive Group Despite all the technology, skilled staff are key. Progressive Group
Progressive Group Progressive Group
Progressive Group Progressive Group
Progressive Group Rodney Sharp. Progressive Group
Progressive Group Progressive Group
Progressive Group The team responsible for the innovative work at Progressive Group. Progressive Group

Based in the Hamilton suburb of Te Rapa, Progressive Group is a relatively small company with a very impressive portfolio of clients, including some big names of the electricity-supply industry.

Founded in 1992 by the company's managing director, Rodney Sharp, Progressive Group currently employs nine staff working at two locations.

Sharp told DOW that rather than concentrating its efforts on manufacturing regular industrial components, such as augers and the like, the company prefers to concentrate its efforts: "To supply simple, technically-elegant solutions to industry in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner". That philosophy has become the firm's mission statement.

Originally a diesel mechanic by trade, Sharp has honed his skills in the field of engineering design by involving himself in a range of industries not normally associated with each other.

At one time in his life he sold and serviced Mercedes Benz trucks, while at another time he worked on remedying failed hydraulic designs on super-yachts.

Progressive Group has invested heavily in the most up-to-date computerised automation and has recently installed a computer numeric control (CNC) machine, along with a computer-controlled Okuma lathe which has Y Axis technology, making the machine capable of producing components of any external shape.

In order to honour his commitment to his company's mission statement, Sharp surrounds himself with a team of like-minded people who share his ability to 'think outside the box', people like sales engineer Jason Inness and Cameron Turner who talked the DOW team through the operation of some very technical equipment, explaining the operation of the machines, in a simple-to-understand manner.

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Already with a number of designs to its credit, (the company's WoodWeta won the Degussa Award for innovation in 2005*) Progressive Group has recently supplied systems in the completion of the $1 billion Te Mihi geothermal project at Wairakei, which included the design and installation of four specialised gravity close-controllers on the emergency valves that protect the station's systems.

Aside from the WoodWeta, Progressive Group manufactures attachments for forestry, construction, and farming under another Kiwi-appropriate name — Katipo.

There is the Katipo tilt hitch, which allows skid-steer attachments to be angled 20 degrees in any direction, and a range of Kakapo pile drivers which produce a falling weight of two to six tonnes.

Currently in production is the Sharp laser-controlled, twin-blade levelling device, designed for attachment to skid-steer loaders. All Progressive Group machinery is finish-coated with a distinctive specially-blended colour known as Progressive Red.

Watch out for more innovations from Progressive Group as the fertile mind of Rodney Sharp never sleeps.

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*WoodWeta is a giant hog fuel-producing machine as featured in the January 2012 issue of Deals on Wheels. Subscribe to the magazine here.

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